British retailers are “failing to follow the digital lead” set by US counterparts and are wasting £32m every year by dispensing paper receipts.
By contrast, increasing numbers of US retailers, including Apple, Sears, Kmart, Gap, Banana Republic, Best Buy and Old Navy, routinely issue digital receipts to their customers, an approach that is said to save money while simultaneously opening new marketing opportunities.
Research by receipt processing and management service ExpenseMagic discovered that approximately 11.2 billion paper receipts are generated every year in the UK, at a cost of £32m.
“The use of e-receipts here in the UK is still in its infancy – compared to the US our retailers look Luddite,” said Adam O’Kane, co-founder of ExpenseMagic. “There, the paper receipt is rapidly coming to the end of the roll, yet British companies are wasting millions of pounds and iissing out on valuable marketing opportunities by using them.
“Strategically, consumers are changing the way they’re shopping and are using technology like their mobile phone to pay for purchases.
“Increasing numbers of retailers are looking into mobile payments, and inevitably this practice will drive the convergence to digital receipts.”
Beyond the cost savings and environmental benefits, digital receipts stored on hard drives can significantly improve accounting standards and the management of expense claims.
“Paper receipts can be annoying, burrowing into the bottoms of wallets and purses or getting lost in cardboard boxes and filing cabinets, only to be pulled out and puzzled over long after their usefulness has expired,” said O’Kane.
“Last year, British SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) missed out on claiming £2bn of legitimate expenses simply because of the sloppy and haphazard way they manage and process them.”
Digital receipts also present digital marketing opportunities for retailers. “Many stores in the US add the customer’s e-mail address to a mailing list for follow-up offers,” said O’Kane. “All this data can really help retailers generate and retain a sense of loyalty with their customers – something no retailer can take for granted in the current economic environment.”